ANKARA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Turkey and Ukraine will sign a free trade agreement during the Turkish president's visit on Thursday in a bid to meet the target of 10-billion-U.S.-dollar trade between the two countries, the Turkish trade minister said.
"We are taking a very important step in our trade relations with Ukraine in order to reach the 10-billion-dollar trade target set by the presidents of the two countries. Tomorrow, we will sign a new free trade agreement with Ukraine," Trade Minister Mehmet Mus said Wednesday at a press conference in the capital Ankara.
The commercial ties between Turkey and Ukraine are very strong and the bilateral trade was in a rapid upward trend in 2021 by a 59-percent increase to 7.4 billion dollars, the minister added.
The trade between Turkey and Ukraine covers steel, the shipping industry, yachts and services, air conditioning, furniture, automotive industry, tobacco, fresh fruit and vegetable products, and defense industry.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky will meet in Kiev for the 10th high-level strategic cooperation council meeting with the participation of ministers and senior officials, aimed at enhancing bilateral ties. The gathering will also mark the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties.
The meeting comes amid NATO member Turkey's mediation efforts to defuse tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Erdogan also invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to Turkey.
Ankara repeatedly warns against any conflict in the region amid a crisis that erupted after Russia deployed more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine.
The military deployment has raised fears among NATO members that Putin has plans to invade eastern Ukraine, despite Moscow's denial.
Turkey and Ukraine have recently stepped up cooperation in the defense industry, and Kiev has been purchasing Turkish Bayraktar TB2 drones since 2019, and also signed an agreement to purchase Turkey's warships.
Russia says Ukraine uses Turkish drones to attack pro-Russian forces in Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. ■